Very few would have predicted that Tom Hanks could have been outshined in Universal Pictures’ News of the World but then not many know about Helena Zengel. The pint-sized 12-year old received acclaim for her work in 2019’s System Crasher and impressed Paul Greengrass enough that he cast her in the pivotal role of Johanna. While Hanks received top billing in News, Zengel stands tall and is the emotional backbone of the film.
In News of the World, Zengel plays a mostly wordless child who is born into a German-American family is captured by the Kiowa tribe and completely assimilates to their way of life forgetting all she once knew. Once circumstances eventually lead to her rescue, we are able to get a sense of anger and the loss she feels through the slightest sounds and the hollow look she gives others.
Helena Zengel’s performance has already earned her recognition from various critic guilds and Best Supporting Actress nominations from the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. We were very fortunate to chat with Zengel about her role in the film, all the success that has come from it and the one thing you don’t know about her.
News of the World is currently available to stream on demand.